My 11 year old daughter is attending an online school at home. She is truly gifted and seems to have developed an uppity attitude over her high I.Q.
Anyhow, she has a 9 year old brother who has an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and learning difficulties. He has consistently scored on the borderline mentally impaired range on his I.Q. tests, although he does have some amazing talents when it comes to engineering building items, story writing and art. His motivation to learn is amazing and while he does have an educational assistant, he has been keeping up with his classmates in school in most of his subjects other than reading.
While my daughter is usually careful to not say anything cruel to her brother within my earshot, I have heard her make some fairly cruel digs to him. I've heard her laugh at him for his choice in "little kid" books, will make snide remarks about how he'll never achieve her grades, etc. She will tell him that everyone in his school dislikes him. Other times, she has pretended that she cannot understand him. (He has difficulties with articulation.)
I know that this sounds like my 11 year old isn't a very nice person. The thing that is odd is that she is usually extremely sweet and sensitive. She's always been well behaved. For the most part, she gets along awesomely with her brother. She isn't growing up in a verbally abusive environment, so I don't know where she's getting the idea that it's okay. I've discussed with her that her words are hurtful and she seems to be remorseful. When I ask her why she says these things, sometimes she says that she's sick of how much time her brother takes up. I've explained to her why he needs this time and I do my best to make sure that I spend quality time with her.
I grew up in a verbally abusive household as a child and was bullied, so I no firsthand how deeply words can sting. I cannot stand hearing her say things like that and while I know this sounds overly dramatic - I actually feel like a failure that I've raised a child who can say such cruel things. I've tried just about everything to get her to stop, short of corporal punishment.